Good Enough Mother has had the joy (and sometimes frustration) of having three strong men in her life.
First: My father. William Henry Syler. Bill to his friends and family. He was the very definition of the strong, silent type. After a 22-year military career, he became a civil servant, working first as a postal carrier, then in an administrative job for Social Security.
My dad was my hero for the things that don’t really garner headlines in our society. He took great care of our family, financially and otherwise. We never had a need for anything (of course, as young girls, my sister and I WANTED everything but that is beside the point). I remember when Tracy and I were pre-teens and one Valentines Day, Dad said he needed to make a call (this was WAY before cell phones). When he dialed the number, oddly enough, the ring came from inside our house. We ran excitedly down the hall and there, in each of our rooms was a princess phone! He had arranged for an additional line to be installed in the house that was our very own. There was a method behind his madness because that meant that his line would not be tied up with kids calling all time of the day and night. Smart man.
But one day he took on super human status. He came home from his mundane job at the Social Security office and poured himself a drink. He looked like he really needed one, this day more than the others. So over dinner, mom begged him to tell us what happened. Turns out some man had come into the office, upset about the government and his benefits and started trashing the place. Just as he picked up a typewriter and was about to throw it at someone, my dad stepped in. “STOP!” in that booming voice which made it clear it was a command not a request. He continued to talk to the man until he dropped the typewriter and crumpled into a sobbing heap. Wow, my dad was a hero that day, and not just to me.
We did not have a perfect family or upbringing but my father was the first, up close and personal look I had at what a man does for his family. It wasn’t just about making money. He guided our family through some turbulent times. He showed us love and support in his quiet, gruff manner. He taught me a lot about life.
He cared for us for so long that it really took me aback when I realized he was not invincible. Carrying around too much weight, smoking and drinking too much all took their toll. He battled high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and breast cancer before finally dying of a stroke at age 59.Read More